SBJ/October 24-30, 2011/Franchises

Penguins move their TV programming to website

The Pittsburgh Penguins have shifted their original television programming from local broadcast partner Root Sports Pittsburgh onto a team-owned website called Pens TV.

Based on team research — which says Penguins fans skew higher in online usage than regular Pittsburgh residents — team officials believe the move will improve viewership and advertising revenue.

For the last six seasons, the team produced a 30-minute magazine recap show on Root Sports called “Inside Penguins Hockey,” which aired on Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. David Peart, Penguins senior vice president of sales and service, said the show did not generate major local ratings.

“Even on a Saturday night the show would do a 1 or 1.5, and our advertisers weren’t able to realize the impact of the exposure because of the ratings,” Peart said. “We were putting a lot of time and energy into it.”

In April, the Penguins renewed their local broadcast agreement with Root Sports through the 2028-29 season. Peart said the agreement did not affect the decision to discontinue “Inside Penguins Hockey.” A Root Sports spokesperson said the company supports the Penguins’ Web initiative. Root Sports currently produces a pregame and postgame show for Penguins games.

Peart said Pens TV will enable the team to increase its total programming of 30-40 hours to nearly 100 hours this year. He said the website also allows more partners to become involved. The new programming will revolve around shorter four-minute vignettes. On game days, Pens TV will feature a regular pregame show sponsored by Verizon, and on non-game days during the season, the website will air a scouting report sponsored by Trib Total Media.

The channel also will feature a “Plays of the Week” show sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods, a historical highlight show sponsored by Consol Energy, a player spotlight show sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and a weekly interview with broadcaster Mike Lange.

The shows will be produced in a new studio the team built at Consol Energy Center. Peart declined to discuss revenue numbers. A source familiar with the team believes the website can generate seven figures in advertising revenue annually.

“We think this will complement [Root Sports] programming,” Peart said. “We see a lot of potential to elevate the brand.”

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